With Facebook and other platforms constantly changing the way businesses can advertise, there is one way to still get your message across and create moving content that people want to share—content that people are so moved by that they want their friends to experience it, too. We’ve all tagged our best friends and shared countless videos on our timelines because the emotions or stories resonated with our core values.
There isn’t really a formula for creating viral content, but there are three key elements for making content more shareable: a defined audience, relatable character and resolved conflict.
I have been fortunate in my career to have some videos that crested the hundreds of thousands of views, and I have had a video go internationally viral. I woke up that day and thought my phone was broken, wondering, “Why does it say Reebok has shared our video?”
My dear friend and I created a video for a good cause about an athlete that needed help and had a powerful story. She’d won an international competition and had name recognition throughout her sport. This was a perfect storm; she had a built-in audience, was a lovable character facing an unbelievable obstacle, and she had the spirit to overcome it. This situation is not repeatable, but the key elements of the story are.
How can an agency replicate this process for their clients and elevate their brand’s content? The core concepts are the same. Every great story has characters, and each character has a desire and some sort of conflict. This applies to any story a brand wants to tell. Even on a smaller scale, all brands have a built-in audience. Knowing who your audience is and how your characters can move the audience allows you to create engaging content without manipulating the story.
We recently created a video for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma that involved these key elements: audience, character and conflict. We knew our audience was a mix of current and potential donors and Bigs and Littles, and we knew we wanted to highlight the “power of the match.” We needed to tell a story that would showcase these themes and resonate with our audience.
So, we selected two pairs of Bigs and Littles that best highlighted a successful match to show our donors that their support creates opportunities for life-changing friendships. Bo, a young woman and her Big, Marilyn have been matched for 11 years.
Bo and Marilyn were our emotional characters, but we also needed to showcase the mentorship and friendship in a match without taking away from Bo and Marilyn’s experience. So, we incorporated our other match, Daniel and Richard, as a different component to the story.
No one in Bo’s family had graduated high school and Bo’s parents wanted her to have a positive, powerful influence in her life. It is important to note that there is a certain compassion you must have as a filmmaker to honor your subjects in how you portray their conflict. This was something we kept on the surface throughout the entire process.
In the end, we created a story that features real people with desires, fears, hopes and dreams. We see people that we want to succeed, people who face challenges and overcome them and have gained support and companionship. These are things we all desire and face. When we root for people in a story, in some capacity we are rooting for ourselves and the challenges we face in our own lives. The context may be different but the feelings are the same.
In a time where we’re trying to find the perfect length for our videos, time of day and day of the week to post our content, social media is changing their algorithms and making it harder for brands to be seen. So, instead of fighting for a spot in someone’s newsfeed suggestions, I say create content that people want to be a part of; create socially engaging content and it will thrive on social media organically.
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